Collecting Original Comic Art: The Basics

Francesco Brisighelli
May 08, 2024By Francesco Brisighelli

Hello Comics & Crypto community! I’m Francesco, an original comic art collector since 1995. I publish a weekly newsletter called Comic Art Tips, where I compile the most interesting auction prices and the best new auction highlights into a few links. It’s a quick read to keep you informed and discover the next piece for your wall. 

In this article I’ll try to make a quick introduction to original comic art and the first steps to approach collecting it, and since everybody will think “yes, but how much is original comic art worth?”, I also compiled a list of the top ten prices ever paid for original comic art. But don’t despair, as you will read in a few moments there’s great comic art to collect for every price. 

(Note: I had to go down the list to #21 to find the top 10 without repeating artists, in the first 21 positions there are 10 Hergé pieces, 2 by Uderzo and 2 by Crumb). 

1) Hergé: Tintin Le Lotus Bleu Cover €3,175,400 

Hergé:  Tintin Le Lotus Bleu Cover
Hergé: Tintin Le Lotus Bleu Cover

Ever since I stumbled upon an original comic art booth at my first convention when I was 16, I’ve been captivated by its allure. This introduction to the world of original comic art diverted my collecting path, leading me away from the pursuit of rare or pricey comics and towards a fascination with the individuality and creativity inherent in each original piece. Today I only buy comics for reading purposes, and save the money for my comic art collection. 

Unlike printed comic editions, where thousands of copies can be produced, original comic art offers a level of exclusivity that is unmatched. Each piece is a singular creation, and if well chosen, a piece of history bearing the personal touch of the artist’s hand. Original comic art represents the purest form of the creative process, capturing the essence of the artist’s vision in a way that printed editions simply cannot replicate. 

What is Original Comic Art? 

Let’s start from the basics. A piece of original comic art is usually a sheet of paper on which a comic artist has drawn a page or cover of a comic using traditional methods (pencil, ink, colors...). Each of these sheets of paper is subsequently scanned and printed inside a comic and corresponds to one of its pages. The hand drawn pages remain to the artist, who can then sell them to collectors or dealers. 

2) Mike Zeck: Secret Wars #8 P.25 $3,360,000 

2) Mike Zeck:  Secret Wars #8 P.25 $3,360,000 

3) F. Miller & L. Varley: The Dark Knight Returns Cover $2,400,000 

F. Miller & L. Varley:  The Dark Knight Returns Cover

4) Albert Uderzo: Le Tour de Gaule d’Astérix Cover €1,150,000 

Albert Uderzo:  Le Tour de Gaule d’Astérix Cover €1,150,000

First Steps

As you embark on your journey as a collector of original comic art, it’s important to maintain a long-term perspective and plan for future growth. The first step is to decide on what you want to collect. You can change the direction after a few years or purchases, but you need to start somewhere and think of a first direction you want to follow: a single piece from all of your favorite artists, pages from your favorite storyline or character, or you may specialize in a single genre or a single artist. 

Then you have to plan your maximum budget for a single piece, as you may discover that you can’t collect Steve Ditko pages if your budget is $500. If your budget isn’t  high, it won’t be a problem as there are tens of thousands of pages of comic art in the market, and you can buy historic and beautiful art for less than $1,000. 


While many collectors, like myself, appreciate a wide range of comics and artwork, there’s merit in considering specialization to ease your collecting journey. Specialization offers a focused approach that can help you refine your collection and allocate resources more efficiently. By narrowing your focus to a specific artist, character, or genre, you can maximize your collecting budget and capitalize on opportunities quickly when the right piece becomes available. Also remember that you can’t be an expert in pricing each art piece, concentrate on learning all about certain artists or series. 


When venturing into the world of original comic art collecting, it’s crucial to approach the hobby with a well-informed mindset. While it can be tempting to purchase the first piece that catches your eye, doing so without proper research can lead to disappointment. By taking the time to educate yourself about the artists, prices, and market trends, you’ll be better equipped to make informed purchasing decisions and avoid costly mistakes down the line. 

One of the best ways to expand your knowledge and expertise as a collector is by seeking guidance from those who have been in the hobby for longer. Join relevant Facebook groups, start looking around the ComicArtFans and 2DGalleries websites, look at the art and read the posts and comments. 

Then the best thing to do is open an account on the Heritage Auctions website, which allows you to study the archives of ALL the art they auctioned in the last 15-20 years. Search an artist’s name (or whatever you think you want to collect) and look at the closed auction results, sorted by highest price and more recently sold. Just keep in mind that any sale made before the 2020 lockdown is not relevant anymore. While there you can also set email alerts for new auctions from your favorite artists. Look at the high and low prices and see if your budget is enough, you may discover that you can’t afford the covers or the top pages by your favorite artist, but at the same time that the mid-range pages are within your budget and still really nice.

Start small 

It’s wise to start with pieces that are within a lower to mid-sized price range. While it can be tempting to dive into acquiring high-value pieces, beginning with more affordable options allows you to explore your tastes and preferences without risking significant financial investment. At the same time it’s better to buy two great pieces in a year than spreading the same money into twenty pieces, so try to balance the two extremes. There is original art by great artists and from great comics that made history but, for many reasons, are still affordable, while it’s often a bad idea to buy a low-quality piece by a highly valued artist just because we can’t afford his best pieces. 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of overspending on pieces that may not hold their value over time. Be wary of overpaying for pieces simply because they appeal to your aesthetic sensibilities or because you fear missing out on a perceived bargain. Original comic art collecting is a marathon, not a sprint, and taking the time to research, compare prices, and assess the market value of artworks will ultimately pay off in the long run. By resisting the urge to splurge on impulse purchases, you’ll position yourself for sustainable growth as a collector. Learn to let go of a piece, even if you now think you’ll never find anything else you like more. 

Investment potential 

It’s essential to adopt a strategic approach to building value within your collection, and it’s crucial to consider the long-term investment potential of your acquisitions. Look for artists with a track record of increasing market demand, as these may appreciate in value over time. If you don’t want to only collect for aesthetic pleasure but you’re interested in investing, it is very important to only acquire art that has made, or will make, history. And you can find these characteristics in art starting from $200. For investment purposes concentrate on published art by established artists, from comics that are loved by readers and are constantly kept in print. 

5) Bernie Wrightson: Cover for Frankenstein  $840,000 

Bernie Wrightson: Cover for Frankenstein

6) Wally Wood: Shock SuspenStories #6 Cover $1,000,000 

Wally Wood:  Shock SuspenStories

7) Hugo-Pratt: Corto Maltese Les Helvétiques €671,000 

Hugo-Pratt:  Corto Maltese Les Helvétiques

Where to buy?

Auctions are my favorite way to acquire originals for my collection and also the one I recommend after having had a minimum of experience with easier ways to collect. They represent one of the most exciting and dynamic avenues for acquiring original comic art, offering collectors the opportunity to obtain artwork at real market value while also presenting the potential for unexpected bargains or fierce bidding wars. However, it’s essential to approach auctions with a clear understanding of the risks and rewards involved. By conducting thorough research, setting realistic budget limits, and remaining vigilant during the bidding process, collectors can increase their chances of securing high quality artworks at favorable prices. 

Dealers play a crucial role in the original comic art market, serving as intermediaries while providing expertise, curation, and access to a wide range of artworks. It’s essential for collectors to approach transactions with dealers with a clear understanding of the pricing dynamics, trade-offs, and opportunities involved. One of the key considerations when purchasing original comic art from dealers is understanding their pricing strategies and how they factor in future market trends. Dealers often price their artworks with an eye towards anticipated appreciation in value over time. Dealers sometimes specialize in specific artists, genres, or styles, allowing the right collectors to access artwork tailored to their interests and preferences. 
Collectors may also have the opportunity to trade artworks with dealers. While it offers a convenient way to acquire new artworks without the need for cash transactions, it’s essential for collectors to understand the trade-offs involved. Dealers may offer lower trade-in values compared to market prices, however, trading (with dealers or other collectors) can still be a viable option to acquire high-value pieces without the need for additional cash outlay, and if the art you own has appreciated in time you may also be able to trade up, and own art that you couldn’t afford with cash only. 

Purchasing original comic art from artists offers collectors a unique opportunity to support creators directly. Additionally, buying direct allows collectors to establish personal connections with artists, fostering relationships that can enhance their collecting experience. While this approach can be rewarding, it’s essential for collectors to navigate the complexities of pricing, negotiation, and resale value when buying directly from artists. 

When buying directly from artists, collectors may encounter a wide range of pricing dynamics, influenced by factors such as the artist’s reputation, the complexity of the artwork, and the demand for their work. While some artists may price their art lower than dealers to attract direct sales, others may attach higher price tags to their pieces due to personal attachment or perceived value. As a collector, it’s essential to conduct thorough research, compare prices across different channels, and negotiate in good faith to ensure that you’re paying a fair value for the artwork. 

Commissioning original comic art offers collectors a unique opportunity to collaborate directly with artists and acquire artwork tailored to their personal preferences. It is a powerful way to support artists directly, but while commissioning pieces can be a rewarding experience it also presents challenges and considerations related to resale value, artistic risk, and market demand.

It’s essential for collectors to consider the potential challenges related to resale value and market demand. Unlike pre-existing or published artworks, commissioned pieces may have limited appeal to the broader market, making them more difficult to sell at a later date. Additionally, collectors risk receiving artworks that may not align with their expectations, further complicating the resale process. While commissions of well-known characters drawn by established artists may hold greater resale potential, pieces featuring secondary characters or personal creations may struggle to attract buyers, potentially resulting in financial losses for collectors. 

Original Art drops, a popular practice among dealers and artists with significant social media followings, can present both exciting opportunities and potential pitfalls for collectors. The fast-paced nature of art drops and the pressure to make quick decisions can lead to regrettable purchases and financial losses. Another risk associated with successful art drops is the potential for price inflation over time. If an art drop sells out within minutes, dealers may interpret this as a signal to increase prices for subsequent drops, leading to inflated prices for artworks by the same artist. Inflated prices can also result in financial losses for collectors when they attempt to resell art in the secondary market. 

eBay is great for buying comic art and there’s a lot of great art, contrary to many who think eBay is only for amateur artists, fake art and forgeries. If you want to go alone (but reading my newsletter will help, since I do myself the trimming of fakes, copies, bad art and keep the few good things posted) it is possible to make great deals but also get screwed if you don’t have experience or a good eye. Don’t buy sketches or unpublished art if you don’t have a trained eye; that’s where forgers work, and you don’t have that problem with published art. Don’t buy art from amateurs trying to make a dollar, only buy published art drawn by established professional artists. By utilizing advanced search features, and setting up saved searches for your favorite artists or genres, you can streamline the process and increase your chances of discovering exceptional pieces (and don’t forget to look at the seller’s feedback). 

8) Robert Crumb Fritz the Cat Ballantine Cover $717,000 

Robert Crumb  Fritz the Cat Ballantine Cover

 9) Herb Trimpe: The Incredible Hulk #180 p.32 $657,250 

 Herb Trimpe: The Incredible Hulk #180 p.32

10) Todd McFarlane: Amazing Spider-Man #328 Cover $657,250 

Todd McFarlane:  Amazing Spider-Man #328 Cover $657,250

How to evaluate a page of comic art you want to buy or sell? 

This is the most important thing to learn, and I can’t teach it in a few lines. You will also need to train your eyes and memory by seeing many different pages and prices, so it will take time. Pricing original comic art is much more difficult than pricing comics, every piece of art is unique so its price may differ even for seemingly similar pages. 

We have already said that the first thing to do is to open an account on Heritage Auctions to be able to see the prices of past auctions and take into consideration median prices. Then take a tour of the sites of the various dealers, find a page similar to the one you want to buy and remove 20/30% to get to the market price. Then take a look at ComicArtFans to see the prices of pages for sale by collectors, and if you ask kindly someone could also reveal the purchase price of his page. 

Then if you are not in a hurry, place email alerts on Heritage, eBay and ComicArtTracker, and links to new pages put up for sale or auction will be sent to you daily. You can also try asking on some public groups but, especially if you want to sell, you will receive low estimates from those who would be interested in buying. With a bit of time and experience you will be able to decide the budget you need for that page you so strongly desire! 

I’m done with my collecting comic art basics, let me know if you have questions and I’ll try to help. And if you want to learn more go take a look at the last issues of the Comic Art Tips Newsletter, I think that following the market with me week after week will give you a good start into the world of Original Comic Art.